July 8, 2016

The Ecclesiastical Character of Humor

From the Prologue to the book by Fr. Dionysios Tambakis titled When the Saints Have Humor: Strange Stories of the Saints (Greek).

Recently I visited the holy Elder Nektarios in Kamariza of Lavrio, and I have met other sanctified figures in my life (St. Paisios, Fr. Ephraim Katounakiotis, Fr. Haralambos Dionysiatis, Fr. Ambrose Lazaris, Fr. Eumenios Lampakis, Fr. Kyrillos Gerantonis and others) and have made the following discovery: "Ultimately all the Saints smile and above all have humor." And indeed it is of such a humor that produces both love and benefit.

How is it then possible for a prostrated man who is 85 years old with a thousand and two illness on him, to be so clever and beneficial and for his face to smile and glow like young carefree children?

I asked him:

"Elder Nektarios, will we go to Paradise?"

And he answered me negatively and hopelessly:

"Not even the outside of it will we pass."

"What are you saying, Father?" I yelled frustrated. "We will not eventually enter?"

"Well, if we put on a strike God will let us in!"

Another time a visitor of the Holy Mountain, indifferent to spiritual matters, asked Saint Paisios:

"Father, what are you doing here, in such a remote cell?"

And the Saint responded:

"I'm watching so the ants won't quarrel."

In almost all cases, laughter is social, and therefore it has an ecclesiastical character, since the Church in society is realized in people. We laugh when we are in gatherings, not when we are isolated....

Therefore the biggest humorists and playful people, who serve God as cheerful swallows, are the Saints. They are those who proclaim freedom and holy madness and at the same time rebuke enslaved humanity for their hypocrisy and pseudo-seriousness.

The playfulness of the Saints is needed and necessary for our world. It is a way to ridicule the world that thinks it can mock God and His truth.

Because the only thing Christ longs for is to see His creatures happy and free like birds who endlessly fly in new heavens, beyond hypocritical and false virtues, which are legislated in a "good" society.

Fr. Dionysios Tambakis (2016)

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.